Gratitude

There’s no question that these are strange times and life as we knew it has changed. Change can be scary, especially when it affects our sense of safety and control and leaves us with uncertainty about the future. This can really get us out of balance and that’s normal and nothing to be ashamed of. It’s especially important now to look after ourselves, acknowledge our feelings and thoughts but make sure we don’t get carried away with them. EFT tapping is a great tool to deal with any uncomfortable feelings. If you’re unfamiliar with EFT, just try one of my breathing exercises. Take a few really deep breaths and count to 5 or 6 while you breathe in and again to 5 or 6 while you breathe out. That’s a great little shortcut to help your nervous system to calm down.

Once calmer, I recommend to count your blessings. Seriously, make a list and write down at least 7-10 things that you’re grateful for. That read that list every day and add to it. We can’t be anxious and grateful at the same time, so choose your focus. Look at gratitude. There’s always something to be grateful for, even if it’s just the weather, the fact that you have shelter and food in the fridge or great past memories.

Gratitude is powerful and when applied on a regular basis, you’ll soon find more things to be grateful for and gradually train your mind to focus on the positive things in your life. It’ll make a great difference in how you feel. Have fun with it. Take care. Thanks for you reading.

Sandy x

How to switch your focus from anxiety to calmness

These are difficult times and not being able to see friends and family, the current uncertainty about the future mixed with fearful messages from the media can really have an impact on somebody’s mental health. Now it’s especially important to look after ourselves and for some it might be easier as long commutes are not on the agenda at the moment and working from home or not working at all free up time and hopefully provides comfort. So we’re trying to find the balance between what’s worse right now, getting used to what’s different and be happy about what’s better.

Our mind is such a powerful tool yet it’s important to feed it the right messages and take control. There was once a story about two wolves, an old legend of unknown origin. It’s the tale of the fight between two wolves we all have insight of us representing our inner conflicts. One wolf is evil full of anger, jealousy, self-pity, regrets, arrogance and laziness while the other, the good one, is filled with joy, empathy, peace, courage, faith and generosity. The question is asked which of these fighting wolves would win the battle and after reflection the answer is revealed: The one you feed.

Free photo 88039025 © creativecommonsstockphotos – Dreamstime.com

So which one are you feeding? Are you spending time complaining how bad it is or are you actively seeking to find the opportunities in the current situation? Are you taking time to look after yourself and embrace new hobbies, habits and connecting to others perhaps via technology? Or are you hiding in your ‘cave’ waiting for the storm to blow over? The important bit is that we all have a choice which wolf we feed and the one we feed will be growing and becoming stronger.

I know this is a very simplistic point of view and things aren’t usually just black or white but I like the message behind it as we can only focus on one emotion at a time, we can’t be happy and sad at the same time and even if we’re sad we can switch our focus to something else, someone we love, for example and the feelings will change and follow our thoughts.

Sometimes, however, we can get stuck in a negative emotion, such as anxiety and find it hard to switch and get out. If changing your thoughts doesn’t change, then give your body a break and use both your body and your mind to find a bit of peace. When body and mind work together, anything is possible. So here’s a quick and easy 5-10 minute relaxation exercise to get from anxiety to calmness:

Sit somewhere quiet and comfortably. Focus on your breath, observe it for a minute, then start counting. Count to five or six while you breathe in and to five or six while you breathe out. Do this for a few minutes. Then start daydreaming. Think of a lovely safe place where you can relax, perhaps a beach or a forest you know. Build it up with your inner eye and notice the colours, sounds and smells. Then imagine going for a stroll there while taking in the calmness of that place. Do this for a couple of minutes or so before coming back. Notice the difference in how you feel. Repeat regularly.

Try it out, really, how about now? Don’t postpone or delay. If appropriate, do it now for a few minutes! If it works teach it to someone else. If everyone did take a 5-minute break like this every day, we’d all be much calmer and happier.

Stay safe. Big hug. Love and light.

Sandy x

How to look after your mental health in these difficult times

In these unusual times it is very important to look after ourselves and others. Apart from our physical needs such as water, food, shelter, sleep, clothing, etc. we all have innate emotional needs that ought to be fulfilled to keep in good mental health. While in the Western world most of us have our physical needs met, our emotional needs are still often neglected, partially because many of us are simply not aware of them. In addition, with current restrictions and uncertain times, it’s relatively easy to get out of balance.

So here’s a few simple tips to fulfil your emotional needs to help with your mental wellbeing.

I understand that for many of us the need for security and safety is a bit shaken at the moment. Yet we’ve been given guidelines to follow to keep us safe, so we are in control and know what to do. Why not appreciate the fact that we have a home where we can feel safe and secure? Think of three things you like about your home! That’ll help you shift your focus. It can also be fun to create a little safe haven with a sanctuary-feel somewhere in your room. Children love building a cave or a safe space, so why not follow their example. Identify a spot. Find your favourite blanket and a teddy bear or soft toy you loved as a child. Add your favourite colours with cushions, scarfs, other fabrics, pictures and other accessories. Add photographs of your loved ones if you like and perhaps a few candles or a plant; some also like incense, soft light and relaxing music. Voila! Spend time there whenever you need to feel safe and perhaps even get into the habit of doing some regular relaxation exercises there. This will help you increase your need to feel safe and secure which will build the more often you use that corner or place to relax.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is meditation.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is relaxation-corner.jpg

Some other emotional needs are to give and receive attention and the need for intimacy and connection. If you live on your own, why not ring your friends and family members more frequently, connect via text, create a WhatsApp group, share funny videos or record an audio message and encourage them to do the same for you. This will help you feel connected and your friends and family will surely appreciate that too.  If you fancy a cuddle but can’t get one, there’s no shame in hugging your pet, a cushion, a teddy bear and especially yourself, which helps with our human need for intimacy.  

Another emotional need is one for creativity and stimulation. This is a great time to reactivate old hobbies or start new ones. Here’s just a few ideas to get you thinking: painting, crafting something, singing, writing, playing a musical instrument, learning something new, join an online yoga class, try out new delicious recipes, create a quiz for your kids or friends and become a quizmaster (online if necessary), DIY, make jewellery, repot your plants or do gardening if you have a garden, redecorate your room, listen to an audiobook or read some of the books you’ve never had time to read or watch your favourite films from your childhood. These activities will give you a sense of creativity and stimulation and perhaps also develop into a new goal you wish to achieve.

Finally, you can exercise your sense of control by looking after your body-mind connection. Choose to look after yourself, get dressed every day, watch what you eat, get enough sleep, try out a new (indoor) type of exercise, create helpful rituals and feed your brain too, ideally with positive things. Please avoid watching the news several times a day or engage in fear-promoting social media posts as they can create and increase anxiety. You have a choice of what to focus on. Energy flows where attention goes, so focus on the good things in life, make a gratitude list, reignite your talents, connect with old friends and help those in need. Being of service can be great boost. Now is the time to shine. If you’re not ready that’s fine but make sure you look after yourself and your loved ones. Stay safe, enjoy the simple things in life and try to have a laugh because laughter heals. If things get too much for you and you need further help with lowering your anxiety, feel free to contact me for an online session.

Sending you a big virtual hug
Sandy

Am I really depressed, or could I just be an introvert?

In a world where the majority of people (apparently two thirds) are extroverts, there are certain unspoken expectations of how to fit in and how to ‘be normal’. For example, we should see friends and family regularly, always go out when asked, engage in active hobbies and continuous professional development, support good causes, be successful, do exciting things and ideally let the world know about it by posting pictures and status updates on social media.

For extroverts this might not be a problem as many of them like being around others and don’t usually mind the general busyness and noise of modern life whereas introverts, on the other hand do! Working all day, commuting and the feeling that we then should also fill our leisure time with exciting things, tasks and people can be overwhelming, although I guess to a certain extent that is true for everyone. Perhaps extroverts just generally cope better with being busy, having full schedules and long to-do-lists and somehow still seem to find the energy to have a great social life too.

Introverts may just need more time alone, they may not want to be out and about all the time,  communicate with everyone constantly about what’s going on in their life or simply do lots of different things. They like to retreat, have time to think and process events of the day, need peace and quiet to balance out all the noises, pressures and expectations they encountered. And that is totally okay! We’re all different and both introverts AND extroverts are needed and valuable.

Introverts might get fed the feeling that something is wrong with them, if they need a break from it all every now and then. Questions might pop up around them like “Where have you been?” “Why aren’t you coming out with us?” “You’re so quiet, is everything ok?” “Did you get my text?.” etc. The unspoken label ‘depression’ may occasionally float around but are people who need some alone time and don’t feel up for talks, events and gatherings really depressed?

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m neither downplaying depression nor am I suggesting that introvert people come across as depressed. It’s just that in my experience as a holistic health practitioner I’ve come across a number of clients who diagnosed themselves and thought they had some sort of mild depression, many of whom turned out to ‘just’ be introverts with no mental health problem whatsoever. So, I thought I’d write about it as I guess it can be quite a relief for anyone doubting themselves.

You don’t have to bend over backwards to fit in. It’s okay to be who you are, it’s okay to miss out on an evening with friends, it’s okay to stay in and take time out for yourself. In fact, if you feel you need it, it’s necessary! It’s important to respect our own needs and if alone time is what we need, then let’s take it. It helps to recharge our batteries and only if we look after ourselves, can we also look after others, plus if you have kids, you set a great example in showing them the importance of self-care.

Now, I’m not advocating to become a hermit. If someone is losing interest and enjoyment, feels in a depressed mood for an extended period of time, experiences increased fatigue or loss of energy, has disturbed appetite and/or sleep problems and engages in pessimistic views of the future, there might be an element of depression and getting support would be advisable. The IDC-10 (meaning: international classification of diseases 10th edition) is often used as a model for diagnosis and can be helpful. I’ve worked with a lot of clients to help them get out of their ‘down period’ and there’s lots of wonderful tools to help with that, such as Solution-focused psychotherapy and hypnotherapy and EFT.

Yet simply being introspective, reflective and observing, enjoying a bit of alone time, having quiet hobbies, not joining every social event or being a bit under the weather every now and then does not mean depression! These are qualities of introverts and it’s important to respect them in order NOT to get depressed in the future because by not getting our emotional needs met, we are more prone to mental health problems. So, take a break to daydream if you need to. Take time out for yourself and please respect others who do the same. What about you? Has this blog post been helpful? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? I look forward to reading your comments. Thanks.

How to embrace your emotions

Feelings, especially on the negative spectrum, can be overwhelming, distracting, even numbing. Often, we just don’t have time to deal with them, so we turn to food, drinks, TV, work, etc. Moreover, society has taught us to swallow and smile and pretend everything is ok, but repressing our emotions can lead to further problems. Emotions have energy behind them and they can build up and cause problems later.

For example, we might get to the point when we just can’t take it anymore and explode, which affects the people around us and often leads to tensions and regret. Sometimes even physical problems can manifest as a result of unexpressed emotions. Repressing anything (or anyone) does never work in the long run as it builds up pressure and tension. What would happen to a pressure cooker without a valve to release the steam?

Now, so how can I become more aware of my emotions and learn to release them in a safe way? Well, the first step is to connect to our body, notice how it feels and acknowledge those feelings. Some people like writing down what bothers them, work off anger in the gym or tell a friend about it. Personally, I’m a big fan of breathing techniques, which help to let go of the energy behind the emotion. For instance, focus on a particular feeling (or a person that triggers a negative feeling) and breathe it out (long and slowly), then imagine breathing in (long and slowly) something positive, such as the energy of peace, forgiveness, calmness, etc. Then with the outbreath, let go of the old negative emotion, followed by breathing in the positive. Visualise it, connect to it and focus on it for several minutes. Notice how much better you feel after 5 minutes, not to mention that the additional oxygen helps you think more clearly.

A second very effective technique for deep emotional healing is EFT tapping. EFT is a nice blend of ancient wisdom like traditional Chinese medicine and modern psychology. We tap on certain meridian points which are part of our energy system while focusing on the particular distress and verbalising it, this helps shifting and releasing the energy of it. If you’re new to EFT, perhaps work with a practitioner or join a group.

If you’re out or at work and unable to “escape” to try out these techniques or you’re not ready to face it just yet, then perhaps try a different approach. Find something funny on the internet and laugh it off. Laughter releases tensions and endorphins and is a great quick fix if needed.

Or be mindful and shift your focus to the little things in life that bring us joy and pleasure, such as sunshine, a cup of coffee, a smile, green traffic lights, having friends, a hug, cuddle a pillow, person or pet. Well you get the idea. This is however, just a temporary fix. Sooner or later you might have to face your feelings and let off steam in a safe way. After all, we are all human beings and feelings are part of our deepest humanity.

Have a great day. Love, light and angel blessings.
Sandy

The value of surrendering

Sometimes there just doesn’t seem to be a way out. You’ve tried everything, thought about it from every angle but can’t find a solution. Then, maybe it’s best to surrender and see what happens. Let the universe deal with the issue, give it up to a higher power and simply surrender. Stop trying so hard and get back into the flow. Reinstate your own power and go back to trusting that everything is going to be ok. That’s what surrendering is, at least to me.

I’ve had lots of changes over the last year, actually years, and it’s only because I was willing to surrender, that I was able to see the bigger picture and purpose. Now, retrospectively I see all the hidden blessings in all those many challenges. Trust that you’re never given anything that you can’t handle. Give up trying to control the outcome. You can’t push the river, just let it flow. I know this is easier said than done. I myself struggled with this just a few months ago. Luckily I’ve got some great tools to help me along, such as EFT tapping and other modalities. I gained clarity and now know that everything had to happen exactly as it did, in fact, it was meant to and me pushing, struggling and trying to control things, only made it worse for me and my emotional state at the time. I was trying so hard to go upstream, because I thought I knew what I had to do and what was best, yet the universe always know better and things will work out excactly as they are meant. I learnt my lesson and so can you. If you struggle with your current life circumstances and feel like you could do with some help to let go, surrender and see the bigger picture, feel free to get in touch with me or anyone who you trust and who is qualified to help. You don’t have to face any of this alone, yet if you choose to, know that there’s always a way and that things will always work out ok eventually. Let go of the pain & struggle and trust that the lessons will soon be revealed to you, if you keep looking.

Happy January vibes. Let’s make 2020 our best year and decade ever!!!!

Hugs from the southeast coast of England.

Sandy

How to find happiness

How are you feeling right now? Just stop for a minute and notice how you feel! Connect to your body and your mind….Do it right now….

Awareness is the first step towards change. Too often we’re on autopilot and don’t even notice what’s going on inside of us. By tuning into our body and feelings, we gain awareness. Notice how you feel, name the feeling, name the thought and the emotion behind it. Become aware, watch, observe, become present. Change your focus from outwards to inwards. When we ignore that inner whisper too long, it becomes a scream but by listening and noticing we can turn the volume back down again.

focus your attention
Did you know that you always have a choice? You can choose to pick a thought that makes you feel good. Try it right now. Dwell on a happy memory for a moment or imagine a happy fulfilling future. Keep it positive, inspiring and allow yourself to smile. Focus your attention on calmness, peace and happiness. Feel it from the inside out. Once you’ve done that for a moment, tune into your feelings again. Feeling better? Great! If something/someone upsets you, distract yourself with some positive thoughts, go for a walk and appreciate what you see. You can’t be calm and angry at the same time. The choice is yours. If that doesn’t work, maybe try some EFT tapping to release any negative feelings or whatever works for you. If someone said to you, would you rather be happy or unhappy, what would you say? Well, you’ve got a choice! You can focus your attention and you can choose a thought or a feeling. I, for sure, choose to be happy. Come and join me  ….*singing* ’If you’re happy and you know it….’

Happy summer holidays. I’m still around if you’re intested in a session. Wishing you a wonderful day filled with positive attention, love and happiness.

Sandy

How to turn challenges into blessings

Is it really June 2017 already? Wow, how did that happen? When you look back at this year so far, can you see how much has changed? Or is it just me 😉 Change is the only thing that never changes. Change is natural, change is beautiful, some resist it, some embrace, some fear it, some call it challenges but it’s actually just change. And, we influence it: we can choose our reaction to it, we can welcome it rather than cursing it. We can believe that things will all work themselves out eventually. Most challenges turn into blessings. We see them as challenges because we haven’t found the lesson in them yet. Everything in life has two sides, look out for the positive in any change that happens. Start by being grateful. Affirm that everything happens for a reason.

the power of gratitude

You and your life will continue to change. If you start counting your blessings, you can direct that change, influence it and become it. A grateful person is a happy person. You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. Look for something positive in every day, even if some days you have to look a little harder.

look for something positive

Set yourself reminders to do this, perhaps on your phone or have visual reminders around your workplace or home. Stop every couple of hours, take a few deep breaths and find something to appreciate about yourself, your day, the people around you or whatever comes to mind. This not only helps to reduce stress but also provides you with energy. Positive people are generally happier, healthier and more vibrant. Look for the blessing in every so-called challenge and turn it into an opportunity. By focusing on positive things, your mood will be much better and you might just stumble over a solution, yet you have to be calm and solution-focused for this to happen.

Finally, if you want to consciously change your life for the better, forget about your to-do list every now and then, leave the cleaning, tidying and many other chores for another day and do more of what makes you happy. Your children, friends and family would surely prefer a happier you over a clean house. Be happy, spread hope, enjoy the moment, that’s what people will remember about you. To turn a challenge into a blessing, start by seeing it as one and if you can’t, just let it go for a moment and find your inner strength and happiness by doing more of what makes you happy.

what makes you happy

Happy summer time.

Love and light,

Sandy

How to conquer fear

Experiencing a bit of fear every now and then is a healthy response aimed to keep us safe. Learning something new can make us uncomfortable at first as it takes us out of our comfort zone. Doing new things makes life more interesting though and leads to growth. Courage is the best antidote to fear. Rather than focusing on what might go wrong, take a reality check. 90% of the things we worry about never happen, so why not focus on all the things that might go right? Think how great you will feel once you’ve conquered your fear? How will life be different? Who would be the first person to notice those changes? Focusing on a positive outcome increases the likelihood of positive things happening. Be your own best friend and give yourself a mental pep talk or imagine what a supportive person in your life would say to encourage you to conquer your fear.

fear-vs-courage

Did you know that you can choose your thoughts? So choose the ones that help you, not ones that drag you down. Easier said than done? Well, here’s a short cut: stop thinking for a moment and focus on positive FEELINGS! Who do you love most in life? What does this love feel like? Stay with that feeling for a couple of minutes and watch the changes in your body. Another great way to conquer fear is to focus on your breathing! Breathe in slowly while counting to 6, then let go of the air slowly while counting to 6. Repeat several times and ‘watch’ the breath moving in and out of your body. Notice your chest and belly expand, perhaps put your hands on your body to feel this movement. These two simple techniques help to become present and to focus on the here and now. They work wonders before important meetings, job interviews, presentations or to calm down fearful worries.

fear into action

Some people may need healing on a deeper level, for example to overcome trauma, phobias or panic attacks. EFT tapping and Hypnotherapy are powerful tools to conquer these issues. These and other modalities are offered by a variety of practitioners (myself included). I’ve seen the most amazing changes in my clients. Don’t let your fear imprison you, set yourself free and start enjoying life. Turn your fear into action. Like Winston Churchill said: ‘Courage is a decision’. Take your power back now!

courage is a decision

I’d love to hear if you’ve found this post helpful and look forward to reading your comments.

All the best,

Sandy

How to reduce anxiety in less than 5 minutes

Stress and anxiety are buzz words nowadays. Everyone is just rushing around, being busy with being busy and having a million things on the to-do list. Many have not enough time to relax and look after themselves, especially women who always seem to care and look after everyone else and don’t get enough time for themselves. Yet just like a car can’t run at 100 miles an hour all the time without stopping to refuel, so do we need to stop regularly and look after (refuel) ourselves. People who don’t take time to look after their health will HAVE TO take time later to look after their illness. Which way are you heading?

relax-stress

The good news is that refueling doesn’t have to take ages. A day at the Spa sounds very appealing but many have neither the time nor the money for such a treat. Here is a very simple tool that you can surely fit even into the busiest schedule and you can do it anytime, anywhere. It is a breathing technique called 7/11 breathing. This is how it works: take a deep slow breath in while counting to 7, fill your belly and lungs with air, then breathe out even more slowly while counting to 11, notice how your belly and chest slowly release the air. Repeat several times: breathe in to 7 and out to the count of 11. If 7 and 11 feel too long, adjust the numbers to your own pace and capacity. The important part is to breathe more slowly and to breathe out for at least 2 counts longer than you breathe in. Doing this for a few minutes switches your body from the sympathetic nervous system (stress mode) to the parasympathetic nervous system (relax mode). Seriously try it right now for at least 2-3 minutes and watch your anxiety melt away…

breath

This techniques puts you back in touch with your body. The counting engages your mind and the combination of counting and watching your breath helps you become present and be in the moment. Too often we spend too much time thinking about the past or planning our future. Right in this moment, we are ok, right now we don’t have to find a solution to all of our problems. Just for this short moment we can start anew as in every breath there is a new opportunity. Once we calm down and release the stress we get access to our intuition, can think more clearly and often become aware of the most amazing ideas and solutions that have been in us all along. All it takes is a bit of breathing, allowing your body and mind to relax. Do this regularly and see what happens. I recommend doing this exercise several times a day, even if it’s just for a minute or two each time. It reduces stress and anxiety, quietens the mind, helps you sleep better, provides your brain with more oxygen, cuts off the constant noise in our head, especially that critical voice that many of us have and puts us back in touch with our own resources. Enjoy!

breath-tiger

If you found this helpful, please share and/or leave a comment. If you’re interested in finding out more about this topic, join my next workshop on 25th March in Brighton:

Release stress and anxiety2